Before You Get Pregnant
A healthy pregnancy starts long before you test positive. Here’s a preconception checklist:
*See your doctor several months before you want to conceive—and bring your partner. Doing so may help you prevent birth defects, pregnancy complications or prematurity, the March of Dimes reports.
*Tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs or herbal remedies that you are taking.
*Begin taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid daily (see “V”).
*Keep a calendar of your menstrual cycle. It may help you conceive sooner and estimate your due date more accurately.
*Make sure your vaccinations, especially for chickenpox and rubella, are up to date.
*Have any necessary dental work done: Gum disease has been linked to premature labor; and you’ll want to avoid X-rays when you’re pregnant.
*Stop smoking (your partner should, too) and drinking alcohol.
*Limit your intake of caffeinated beverages to just 24 ounces a day.
*Get any chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, under control.
*Have your thyroid checked. “Both hyper- and hypothyroidism can be associated with pregnancy loss,” says Dallas OB-GYN Susan Watts, M.D.
*If you’re very over- or underweight, you may not ovulate normally; try for a healthier weight.
Even before you conceive, start taking a prenatal multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid daily (take 600 micrograms when you get pregnant). “Folic acid goes a long way toward preventing serious neural-tube defects of the brain and spinal cord,” explains Mattison. Spina bifida is perhaps the most well-known of these problems.
Avoid over-the-counter prenatal vitamins that contain herbals or “natural” products; they are not as strictly regulated. If the vitamins upset your stomach, iron is probably the culprit. Ask your doctor about taking folic acid alone until your morning sickness passes. In the meantime, eat lots of folate- and iron-rich foods, such as beans, spinach and raisins.